Background on Atlanta's Community Controlled Radio
Historically Media is considered the "Fourth Estate"
The fourth estate is a term that positions the press (newspapers) as a fourth branch of government and one that is important to a functioning democracy.
The phrase is attributed to Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797), a British politician, as quoted in Thomas Carlyle’s book, “Heros and Hero Worship in History” (1841):
Burke said that there were three Estates in Parliament, but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sat a fourth Estate more important far than they all.
In Britain, the three branches (estates) of government referenced Parliament: The House of Lords (the Lords Temporal and the Lords Spiritual – nobles and clergy) and the House of Commons.
In modern times, the ‘press’ has been expanded to include all news media, not just newspapers.
It is also important to note that while I am referring primarily to community radio in this article, independent media and corporate owned media can be all platforms be it television (cable, etc.), newspapers, radio, newsletters, internet, on and on.
Corporate Media versus Independent Media, the Origins of Independent Media and the 'Sixth Estate'
Non-Corporate Community Radio Board Representation and Programming
As mentioned, independent media, however, is more like healthy organic food. It offers a healthy variety of reliable news and information that is community based and in which you can have a say along with the opportunities to learn about the other estates. It gives you more control, knowledge and opportunities for change and enhancement of collective democratic systems. Essentially, independent community owned media can be and usually is empowering for communities and individuals.
WRFG-Atlanta is one of the thousands of independent community radio entities throughout the world that is the independent voice of the people. It was first on the air in Atlanta in 1973 and ultimately was a Pacifica affiliate as well – meaning that it broadcasts some of the Pacifica programs. I am eternally thankful to Gary Washington for introducing me to it all.
We at WRFG, therefore, along with other independent media entities, are proudly the ‘sixth estate’ providing a voice for and with the people in Atlanta, the South, the nation and the world.
HEATHER GRAY is the producer of ‘Just Peace’ on WRFG-Atlanta 89.3 FM covering local, regional, national and international news.